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Fareed Zakaria speaks at Festival of the Arts

Posted on 10 March 2016 by JLusk

IMG_9303On March 7, Fareed Zakaria spoke at the Festival of the Arts in Boca Raton at Mizner Park. Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria’s GPS”, contributing editor at The Atlantic and columnist at “The Washington Post” spoke with optimism about the state of affairs in the world.

When he was 10 years old in India, he only had access to one channel filled with black and white documentaries touting the “glory of agriculture”. On Sunday, he might see a Bollywood movie. His only glimpse into American culture was watching shows like “I Love Lucy” and “Dallas.” Victoria Principal, he joked, was his American Dream. Little did he know then that he would not only come to America, but end up himself on the airwaves.

These days, it’s his job to analyze what is happening all over the world and understand global trends, something he spoke about in his speech. Today, he said, people are scared; they are sensing economic and even physical danger, or cultural threats. Although terrorism is a big issue, he said to put it into context, saying that after 9/11 the number of people killed by terrorists in the U.S. was 45, but the number of gun-related homicides equals 150,000.

“We live in a world of risks, a world of danger,” he said, saying we should react, but not overreact.

Regarding the issues in the Middle East, he noted catalysts being everything from economic stagnation to political repression, as well as the large amount of youth at this time in the area. Sixty-five percent of the Middle East, he said, is under the age of 30. This youth bubble, he noted, has led to social upheaval in other areas and time periods, including before the French Revolution, the Iranian Revolution and here in the states before 1968.

Italy, he said, will look like Florida in five years. Fertility rates are low and they take few immigrants. We, on the other hand, take in more than one million immigrants, more than the rest of the world put together, and we assimilate them well.

He said that in the 1970s, a more puritanical version of Islam became globalized and groups that were unable to congregate and express dissent gathered in mosques. ISIS benefited from the collapse of Syria and Iraq and every time we left the rebuilding of nations to others it ended up with chaos and a “bloody mess.”

These are the issues that make the headlines, but, meanwhile, Latin America has seen transformations and Mexico, which is more middle class than most people think, has become more pro-American. Legal migration between America and Mexico is really zero, said Zakaria, because it has balanced out. There are as many people moving there as are moving here.

If you build a wall, you won’t solve problems, he said.

He says the xenophobia we have been going through is just a phase, something we have seen throughout history with the likes of Huey Long and McCarthyism. This, he said, is similar, and will pass. Americans will digest it and move on and, in the end, it may make us stronger, he said.

The American government works better than most people think, he said. We survived the recession better than other countries, for example. He noted that since the beginning people have felt that the country could crumble. In letters between Jefferson and Adams, even they were sure the Republic was on the verge of collapse just 10 years after the Revolution.

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